Published: November 13th, 2014
Colleen Wells writes from Bloomington, IN, where she lives with her husband, three children, three dogs and three cats. She loves Y/A novels including "The Fault in Our Stars," anything by Ellen Hopkins and is currently reading "Skinny Bitch" which is convincing her to go back to being a vegetarian. Colleen loves crafting with recycled or old objects and is taking steps toward attaining training leading to certification for facilitating groups in therapeutic writing. Her work has appeared in Georgetown Review, ORION, and Potomac Review among other publications. Her first book, Dinner with Doppelgangers - a True Story of Madness and Recovery is forthcoming from Wordpool Press. You can read more about her atwww.dinnerwithdoppelgangers.com and www.ColleenWells.com
Out of Chaos Comes Art
Once dubbed manic-depression,
bipolar disorder is a potent malady,
that wreaks havoc, making the ordered
brain disorderly, a broken puzzle.
Of the psychiatric disorders
in the DSM-IV,
it is a machine gun.
Sadness engulfed in inertia
psychosis destroying marriages,
addled in fear.
A friend of mine who
shares the affliction
streaked through his yard
like a white, hot comet.
Lithium, Lorazepam, Loxapine,
Wellbutrin, Depakote, Haldol,
Mellaril, Seroquel, Abilify.
And don’t forget the Prozac.
I’ve swallowed them all
to regulate my moods.
Genetic or environmental factors?
The uncertainty belies the certainty
that without them,
some of the greatest writing
would be missing:
bled poetry in the blue hours
before dawn, then stuck
her head in the oven,
Two orphaned children,
left in her wake,
one to wonder,
another to follow suit.
Hemingway was silenced with a gun,
leaving behind his stark, limpid prose
and a family
to pick up the pieces
like gathered river rocks
that started as sand.
In a Fog
One winter morning as sadness engulfs me
and I sit feeling despair akin to that which hangs in the air
at the saddest of nursing homes, while the boys are at school
and Rick is teaching, I decide to go for a drive.
The fog sits low in the sky as I head toward Lake Monroe.
I find the place where we go to swim in the summer.
The parking lot and ice on the lake are covered with snow.
I feel a crunching under my tires and wonder if I’ve accidentally
driven onto the ice.
Panic floods me and I turn around. At least I know I don’t want to die.
The Night Nurse
An attendant stays by my side that night.
I think she’s the reincarnation of my best friend Susan’s
Mom, who died of brain cancer, many years ago.
I am afraid to go to the bathroom by myself,
even though it is only a few short feet from my bed.
I ask the nurse to wait by the door.
When I wake in the morning the caretaker
I get to my feet, unsteady, there’s a glow of light
and a hum of activity at the end of the hallway.
It’s the nurses’ station.
I have to hold on to the wall as I move toward it,
crying out for coffee.
Strangers Got a Gun
My family doctor prescribes Amitryptline, but I’m still not right.
A reoccurring thought tells me traveling to Florida
will make it better. I spend my graduation money
on a plane ticket.
There I do some things uncharacteristic of me
like walking onto a dock and inviting myself to
go deep-sea fishing with a group of strangers.
I reel in a huge Kingfish but have to throw it back
due to regulations.
After the fishing expedition one of the strangers gives me
a ride back to my condo. I talk him into buying
me a six-pack, because I am underage.
While he’s inside the gas station, I open his glove box, find a gun.
It’s black and not that small. I want to pick it up,
but instinct stops me.
When the stranger drops me off, he orders me to go
right inside, and be careful with the beer.
He knows something about me is off.
There’s something not right about him, either.
I feel like telling him to be careful with the gun,
but instinct stops me.
Summertime and the Livin’ is Almost Easy
In the summers we go to the lake cottage for long
periods of time. We can have one paper grocery sack
for packing our clothes, and I’m not allowed
to talk too much during the drive, because my stepdad
doesn’t like it, especially when I pretend
my fingers are people and start chatting with them.
At the lake I sit by the water and read under big, old trees
whose roots are never thirsty, cuz’ they’re so close to the lake
for a sip. My friends are the characters in my books;
Runaway Ralph, Ramona and Beezus,
Amelia Bedelia, Charlie Bucket, and Nancy Drew,
depending on my age.
At night when our parents take the boat to their friends
who live across the lake, we sneak bread slathered with
sugar and cinnamon. My brother climbs the rafters
like a stealthy cat, and the older kids tell me ghost stories
outside in the dark.
Someone is always on the lookout for the glowing lights of the boat,
and for awhile I feel like I’m part of something, but then we see the tell-tale orange and scatter to our bunk-beds, because we know we’d get in trouble for still being up. My heart thumps as I get in fake sleep mode.
My heart hopes our parents will go out again soon.